Minister Mitchell welcomes decision to publish White Paper on National Rail Policy

10 May 2022 in Where We Govern

I welcome the statement made yesterday by the National Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, regarding the impending publication of the White Paper on National Rail Policy.

The Policy has been in development for many years and I am pleased that it is finally being released.  I hope it brings much-needed direction and clarity to the rail sector and I will study its contents carefully once the full document is available.

I strongly support the need for the devolution of responsibility for rail to subnational government to address the ongoing rail crisis and restore rail to its rightful place as the backbone of transport.

Devolution is in line with international best practice and is key to integrating and improving public transport. Therefore, I am pleased that the need for devolution is acknowledged in the White Paper.  My concern is that the proposed development of a Devolution Strategy for Commuter Rail over the next three years will further delay the process.

Given the crisis state of the rail system, it is critical that devolution proceed as soon as possible.  Therefore, I call on Minister Mbalula to expedite the finalisation of the Devolution Strategy so that devolution can proceed.

I also believe that context is critical in determining devolution to the appropriate level of government and, where appropriate, this should include devolution to the provincial level.  In the Western Cape context, it is critical for the Western Cape Government, the City of Cape Town and the other municipalities with commuter rail services to work together in partnership.

Finally, I welcome the proposed participation of the private sector in rail.  This is long overdue and should proceed with all speed, for freight, passenger and commuter rail.